John Jasperse

Doris Duke Artist Award, 2014

New York, NY

Known for combining formal purity with pungent social commentary in his choreography, John Jasperse has created 15 evening-length works for John Jasperse Projects. His recent projects include Canyon, a performance that focuses on the transformative power of losing oneself in visceral experience; and Fort Blossom revisited (2000/2012), which invites audiences to examine contemporary notions of how we experience the body as both owners and spectators. Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project, Batsheva Dance Company, Lyon Opera Ballet, The Irish Modern Dance Theater, and Headwaters Dance Company have also commissioned his work. He is the recipient of a USA Fellowship (2011) and a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant (2003), and his projects have received multiple MAP Fund, NEFA National Dance Project, and NPN Creation Fund grants. In May 2014, Jasperse will premiere Within between—a new work in collaboration with composer Jonathan Bepler—at New York Live Arts.

  • Photo Credit: Chris Taggart
  • John Jasperse- Fort Blossom revisited (2000/2012):
    Fort Blossom revisited (2000/2012)
  • Photo Credit: Lindsay Browning
    Fort Blossom revisited (2000/2012)
  • John Jasperse- Canyon (2011):
    Canyon (2011)
  • John Jasperse- Truth, Revised Histories, Wishful Thinking and Flat Out Lies (2009):
    Truth, Revised Histories, Wishful Thinking and Flat Out Lies (2009)

What fuels your impulse to make creative work?

My primary responsibility as an artist is to incite awakening—in myself and my collaborators through the making of work, and in my audience through its experience of performance. My goal is not to tell people what to think, but to arouse curiosity. If I make something they have already imagined, I am not doing my job. Art can provide a space for discourse that questions the status quo and is therefore a powerful and increasingly rare generative opportunity for the development of society. My work is grounded in guiding concepts that respond to circumstances of my life and the contemporary world. While it exists within the history of dance and performance, the concerns informing it extend beyond that disciplinary history. These concepts inspire my working processes as well as the style and materials of the work. I am more interested in questions than answers, and often cannot predict what a piece will ultimately look like. The resulting work is largely abstract and is realized primarily within the materials of dance—the organization of energy, time, and space. Actual physical experiences for the dancers form the primary materials. In turn, they create the opportunity for visceral empathy in the spectator.